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Soup, Sewing & Southwest

January 24th, 2017 at 06:30 pm

I ate soup two times today. That one is now gone. I have two other kinds in the freezer, which we will likely eat later this week. It feels like we are doing pretty good with the food overall.

I did my sewing today. I made two keychains and four little tissue covers. I put links to the instructions I used, if you are interested. I've made the key chains before. The tissue covers were new for me to sew, but they are super easy!

I heard from Southwest Airlines that they will refund the Early Bird fee I paid. This was for a flight that they cancelled when my daughter was trying to get back to school. That is $15 back in my pocket. I also read that Southwest Rapids Rewards program is changing a policy about transferring hotel loyalty rewards to their program AND allowing it to count for the Companion Pass. They have extended the grace period so they can count until March 31, 2017. We have started using our Southwest card again and are hoping to rack up enough qualifying points to make this possible. We have Marriott Rewards that could make this happen much easier. Now that I know the deadline, I may consider moving some of the rewards to help make this happen. Here is the post on Southwest's website.

I was tempted to run out for a couple things today, but decided they could wait. I will need to go to the post office tomorrow or Thursday to mail the gifts. I will pick up those few items at that time, thus saving some gas and time!

Although, I'm remembering I did spend some money today. I ordered an item for my daughter for her birthday in March. She gave the hint last week, and the item could run out...maybe. I decided since I had money in the birthday account to just get it done!

I also opened up a Youth Checking account for our youngest daughter today. I had to put in a $25 minimum deposit. I figure my daughter can write me a check to pay me back as a good way to start understanding check writing. I think she probably already knows, just hasn't actually done it herself.


Soup from the Freezer

January 23rd, 2017 at 06:46 pm

I thawed soup from the freezer for dinner tonight. I may have thawed a bit too much, but I will eat it for lunch the next few days. Tomorrow night we will have pasta with salad. Actually, I might have soup with salad, and just make the pasta for DH and my daughter.

My sister and mother's birthday's are fast approaching. My sister and I have an agreement not to exchange these last couple years. However, I'm thinking I may sew them each something. I noticed one of the lanyards I made for my sister was looking quite worn last time I saw her. I feel pretty confident I have fabric on hand that will work. Cost will simply be mailing the package, less than $3 each is my guess.

I sold some Box Tops on eBay! My net profit is $11.37. Actually a bit less, since I did put a stamp on the envelope. I'm also redeeming 300 points with Pinecone. That $3 should arrive in my PayPal account tomorrow. And finally, I have enough SB to redeem for a $5 Amazon gift card. I may just keep accumulating and go for a $25 Paypal cash, it depends if I find something on Amazon I need. Smile

Our tax returns were accepted. I'm going to log in tomorrow to see if the IRS indicates a date to except our refund. I know the site currently indicates 21 days or less.



Taxes, Tuition & More

January 21st, 2017 at 06:49 am

I was looking for our interest statement on Navy Federal Credit Union's website yesterday. I couldn't find it, or last years. Turns out they mail it to you, and it arrived in our mailbox yesterday afternoon. My husband's W2 was also available on the MyPay website, so that meant I could start working on our taxes! I am still waiting for one more interest form, but I do know the amount. It looks like we will get a $1497 refund. We couldn't quite claim the full American Opportunity tax credit, but we were very close, having spent $3813 in qualified expenses out of pocket in 2016. I do prefer to have a smaller refund, but I think I deliberately did this last year, knowing the refund could be used towards tuition in February.

Tuition and housing bill was forwarded to me by my daughter last night. The total is $10,426, which includes $4662 for room and board. The rest is tuition, fees and books after her scholarship of $7250. She is taking 17 credit hours this semester, so that inflates the bill a bit. And remember she is an non resident student. I'll write more about tuition and paying the bill in another post.

Yesterday, I bought a few groceries and some junk food. I spent about $15 on six items. Three will be used for meals, but we also bought ice cream, cookies and a diet coke! Ugh. That isn't frugal in the least, and definitely not healthy. And it was all my idea to stop because I suggested ice cream to my daughter.

We are going to the matinee of Hidden Figures today. The admission will be $16.50 for the three of us. I expect my husband will get something at the concession stand. I have $40 allocated in our entertainment budget, anything we don't spend I'm putting towards that tuition bill! Every dollar counts.

Tonight we will have fried rice for dinner. I have peas to add, since I bought those for the tuna casserole I made a couple nights ago. Today we will probably just have leftover pizza, pasta and salad for lunch. There is a lot of salad to use up!

I might write more about this later, but there was discussion of annual credit card spending on the forums. Our annual credit card spending for 2016 was $49,384. I'm not sure I have ever looked at the annual amount before. I'm not sure if that is good or bad. It's good as it is less than half of our gross income. And we didn't pay any interest to use those cards for spending. I'm guessing it is slightly inflated, because it includes my daughter's Europe trip.

Have you started your taxes? Do you know what your annual credit card spending is? What are you having for dinner?

More Food Used Up

January 19th, 2017 at 05:13 pm

I made tuna casserole tonight. We haven't had that in years! It came up recently when we had a friend over and my husband seemed very interested in having it after it was mentioned. I did have those two cans of tuna to use up so I bought the other ingredients to make it. Of course, now I have extra noodles and peas!

My husband made a lot of salad this week, and I haven't been eating as much of it as I should as I've been eating other leftovers. I'm starting to realize we buy more food than we can eat. I think he is starting to notice it too. I'm going to try to have a leftover night once or twice a week. And we do freeze extras with some frequency so that does help avoid food waste.

My daughter and I got our hairs cut today. Smile Cost was $30 with tip at Great Clips. I think I got mine last cut in November, but I sometimes go much longer. My daughter has a very short cut, so I'm taking her once a month now! A big change compared to getting her long hair cut two or three times a year.

A check for $26.40 arrived at our home today. It was from the overage charged by the oral surgeon when my daughter had her wisdom teeth removed. The check is payable to her! I paid, but I suppose since she is 19 they figured it was hers? I decided I would just send it to her though and she can keep it. She's a college student...probably can use the cash!



Electric Bill and Van Repair

January 16th, 2017 at 09:20 am

Our electric bill for last month showed up in my inbox last week. I was scared to look. The temperatures were much lower than normal for this time of year and the heat was running a lot. And yes, I did have Christmas lights on a few hours each night. Total bill is $315!! Last year it was $183. The highest in the last year was March at $257, with July in a close second at $253. I know we could reduce the heat, but it is very hard to get my husband on board with that in the winter as he gets cold very easy.

Today the van was in to look at the air conditioning again. They didn't find a leak, but found the relay was sticking. This was my theory of the problem last time it was in, but they said it was fine. It has been replaced for just under $79.

I leftover tacos for lunch. Tonight I will use the bone broth and the white kidney beans and chicken to make a White Chicken Chili. It's so yummy!

Still Eating It Up

January 15th, 2017 at 03:52 pm

Before we went grocery shopping today, I checked on our items we need to use up. We actually made very good progress last week. I will incorporate a lot of the items we still need to use up, including the rice, sour cream, the white kidney beans, 2 cans of tuna, and the Wasa crackers.

Our grocery trip included cat food for the rest of the month, paper towels, lotion, dish soap, toothpaste, bar soap, coffee, and generic Swiffer cloths. Our total was $168.87. The food total was $126.79. The food total is more than I would have liked, but we did include more meat this week. We really did use up a lot of things last week.

Unfortunately, we came home and realized we paid for several things that didn't get bagged and put into our cart! We didn't bring home the two boxes of generic Swiffer cloths, taco shells, cereal, and a bag of tortilla chips. This is nearly $12 worth of stuff!! The commissary is a bit of a trip (30 minutes or more), so I don't really want to make a special trip to complain. My husband will be on post on Tuesday, but I'm not sure he wants to deal with getting $12 back. Just frustrating!



We Ate Subway

January 14th, 2017 at 12:44 pm

We were out of town this morning. Our event ended around noon and we were hungry. The three of us stopped at Subway before we headed home. We spent $20.65. This is where our habits and lack of planning cost us money. I'm not really upset about it. If I were being truly frugal we would have prepared a lunch at home and brought it with us.

I have updated YNAB with payday funds. We had about $111 that we didn't spend during the first half of the month. I put that in the college tuition and housing bucket. After allocating for regular investments, bills and spending categories, I had almost another $1700 from our current paycheck to put towards tuition. I now have $2935 set aside. I need about $4K total, so I'm still short. I think I can get pretty close on my husband's next paycheck. And since we do have cash, I can actually pay it and then repay ourselves once we do have funds.

Tonight for dinner, we are having fried rice with some of that chicken I made earlier in the week. We have some salad to finish as well. I need to make my meal plan for next week so we can get our grocery shopping done tomorrow! I hope to incorporate some more rice and some soups into our plan.

And Now It's 70+ Degrees

January 13th, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Heatwave! It's over 70 degrees here this afternoon. My husband is off work today for the holiday weekend. He decided it was time to wash the van (he did the truck two days ago). On his outing to do this (and spend $20!!!) he realized the air conditioning was not cooling. We now have an appointment on Monday. It has been in sometime in the last few months for this problem and one of the things they did was add a dye so that if it did stop working again it would help them find the leak. So fingers crossed this isn't too big of an expense!

We did talk about going to a movie today, but in the end we skipped it. I'm kind of glad since he wanted to spend the money washing the van. We don't wash our cars that often now that we are not in an area putting salt down on roadways too often. My husband does want to protect them so they last us a long time. A small investment, although he really could do this in the driveway! I pick my battles.

Despite the long weekend, so far my husband has avoided picking up alcohol. I mentioned I didn't want to drink much, if any this weekend, so that may be a factor. We do have my daughter's friend over this evening, and I need to be the driver to get her home. We might save a little money if we can avoid drinking most of the nights this weekend.

I pulled some more food out of our storm supplies. Non perishables that I will want replenished this summer anyway. I wanted a couple snacks for the girls if needed. I think this friend may be in one of those homes that is considered food insecure. Frown I want her to fill up while she is here if she wants to. It is a long weekend away from school.

And I made a mistake with some of my daughter's books. I sent them to ME, rather than her!! They arrived this afternoon. Luckily she is not in need of them right away. I probably could have reordered and then returned the ones that arrived here, but instead I ran to the post office and got them sent off Priority Mail. That cost me $13.45. An oops expenditure!

I'm just 70 Swagbucks away from getting a $15 Amazon gift card. Once it arrives I'm going to order my daughter's allergy medicine. She takes Zyrtec nearly daily, so we stock up once a year. The cost is just $15.99.

I finished the chicken salad I made yesterday. I had it as a sandwich. We are definitely going to need to get to the store soon. Our stash of food is dwindling. There are still things that need to be used up, but we need other things to go with them. I will be sure to incorporate many of them into my meal planning for next week!

Spring Cleaning

January 12th, 2017 at 10:25 am

It feels like spring here in the Southeast. It was nearly 60 degrees this morning. That made getting my walk with my neighbor in very nice! I've already been doing some deep spring like cleaning; I can actually open the windows today while I'm doing it. I've been very behind in dusting.

I ate my black bean salad for breakfast with half an apple (the other half was rotten). I decided to make chicken salad, rather than tuna salad for my sandwich at lunch today. The chicken will need to be used, and the tuna can wait for later! Oh, and I ate the leftover tomato soup from the freezer with the sandwich.

My daughter is having a friend over tomorrow night. This friend is moving away in a couple weeks and her birthday is today. I think we will make homemade pizza. I only need more pepperoni and that is far cheaper than picking up pizza for take out. We also may make a cake or cupcakes. I may go the box mix route on that, as I think I've only made cake from scratch once. I don't want to ruin this girls cake! The cost is minimal anyway.

I have ANOTHER book to buy my daughter! I really think this is the final one. This one was $64, luckily she didn't need this until Monday so with Amazon Prime it should arrive on Saturday.

I need to do financial upkeep this weekend. Primarily, I need to figure our new withholding and how we really are going to do our retirement investment this year (instead of Roth's we may go Traditional IRA route or add more to my husband's TSP). And I also need to decide on that 2% CD with Navy Federal Credit Union. I think I only have until Tuesday to decide!

More Books!

January 11th, 2017 at 05:01 pm

My daughter emailed that she needed me to order more books from Amazon. I know I thought of doing this while she was home, but she has had good luck with the book store and their rental prices. That has not been the case this semester. I rented one and two others had to be bought new. She will have those on Friday. Those three books cost us $71.86. Hopefully she may want to resell the ones that were not rented so we can get some of those funds back.

I went to Home Depot this evening thinking I had a gift card with a balance on it. I figured I would buy a couple cleaning products with the funds. Turns out it had nothing on it! I'm a bit perplexed that I would keep it if it had no funds left on it. In the end about $8 for the cleaning supplies. I'm kind of in a spring cleaning mode this week here at home!

I'm making bone broth for the first time with that chicken I roasted yesterday. It's going to simmer a full 24 hours or maybe a little more. I look forward to tasting it tomorrow. I used up some carrots, celery and onion to get that started.

I ate the last of the barley for breakfast. Forgot that I was going to add the strawberries though. For lunch I ate the Boca burger with a salad. I used a little feta cheese on the salad, and used more of that in a black bean salad for dinner tonight, which also used up the can of black beans and part of the red onion.

Tomorrow, I will probably eat the black beans for breakfast. They are even better the second day! Then for lunch I will have tuna salad (with red onion) sandwich with the tomato soup from the freezer. In the evening we will have chicken, couscous and possibly more salad! I'm going to cube or shred the remaining chicken for soup or tacos and freeze it. (Did I say that in my last post? If so, I guess I went for simpler tonight since my daughter had a flute lesson!)

I received an email from NFCU that there is a 17 month certificate paying 2%, up to $50K. I'm tempted to put some more in, but I'm starting to have a lot of our cash in CDs and I don't really want to tie it up, although I don't know when we would need it during that time period. We have a least 17 months before another move.

Roasted the Chicken

January 10th, 2017 at 04:48 pm

We haven't spent much in the last couple days. My husband filled up with gas, but needed to after a 3 hour car round trip in the car to take our daughter to the airport last night. She made it back to school, only missed one day of classes. The first day...which she definitely wasn't thrilled with! Oh, and he also spent $8 to buy her dinner before she flew out.

I ordered one of her books online from Amazon today. The bookstore was completely out. She's renting it. I had credits with Amazon to cover the whole thing, so no out of pocket costs on that one.

I roasted the whole chicken I had in my freezer tonight. I put it in late this afternoon, with no expectation to have it for dinner. We will have the breast meat for dinner tomorrow night. Then I will cut the remaining up and portion it to freeze for other meals. I think I have a plan for a couple meals to use it with but I'm not remembering those at the moment! Oh, I am going to make bone broth with the bones tomorrow, that will use up the celery.

I have cooked all the remaining barley. Most of it was used in the mushroom barley soup I made for dinner tonight. We now have two servings of that soup left. I used some of the barley to eat for breakfast. I ate one portion this morning with cinnamon and a little sugar. Tomorrow I will eat it with some frozen strawberries (that I will thaw). I finished the romaine lettuce, the frozen banana and frozen blueberries today at lunch when I made a smoothie. I added chia seeds to that smoothie also. Last night we finished the fettuccini noodles and my husband ate more of the turkey bacon.

This pantry stuff is harder than it looks! I feel like in some cases I use something up, but then have leftovers which I then need to incorporate into a meal for someone...and often that is me. I definitely don't need to buy anything for my own lunches for awhile. There is plenty here!

I do expect a small grocery run in the next day or so. We should have bought tortillas, and I remembered we didn't get the fish I wanted (to have with rice) because the commissary had not yet restocked when we were there Sunday morning. They had been closed on Saturday due to weather, so not everything was put out.

I feel pretty good about how we are using up this food that I bought and should have made a plan for! The whole chicken was going to be for Christmas, but with Riley (our cat) ill and dying, I just didn't have the energy to do it. (We had to put her down on December 27th, so the days prior were tough).

Commissary Run

January 8th, 2017 at 10:43 am

We were snowed in yesterday, after a miniature ice storm hit the area. I think we could have been out, but they way these southerners drive during bad weather makes you want to stay in! The weather did cause my daughters flight schedule for today to be cancelled. Apparently the airline can't get the gate area clear enough! So she will miss the first day of classes and arrive back to the dorm late on Sunday night.

The commissary was closed yesterday and our normal shopping day is Sunday. I expected to see shelves that weren't stocked. I was partially correct. The bread was stocked, but the chicken (which I didn't need) and the lettuce were not stocked at all. Very bare shelves in those areas.

I'm making a point to use up what we have in our pantry, freezer and fridge. I'm about to take out the whole chicken for thawing, which I hope to use in several meals later in the week. I have eaten the last clementine orange. I ate another english muffin, and used up last week's salad with the balsamic dressing. Tonight we are having BLT sandwiches to use the turkey bacon, and some of the romaine lettuce. I also had two tomatoes to use that I don't think made it on the original list.

Our total bill at the commissary was $100.66. We did buy some cat food, laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, contact lens solution, and vitamin C packets. The actually food portion was $66.76!

I told my husband I was making a point of using some things up, but he surprised me and didn't get asparagus for his salad, chips, crackers or tortillas which always seem to end up in the cart! I think we both know we have been overeating. If we don't buy the junk we won't eat it.

After recording the grocery spending in YNAB, we still have $125 left! We may need a couple things before the 15th when we shop again, but I expect we may be able to put those extra funds towards tuition.

Riley Update & More

December 26th, 2016 at 11:37 am

Our cat Riley has cancer. I was actually told this on Saturday, but because of the veterinarian's thick accent, I didn't hear that part. We spoke to him again today in person to get it all cleared up. She is drinking and using the litter box. Her desire to eat is very low. And unfortunately she is vomiting some of it up once a day. I think I mentioned before that she weighs less than she did three months ago.

Our vet costs this month have amounted to $829. We aren't going to do much more for her. She is 9. We will keep her comfortable, until it's time. She still has some energy to play a bit, and gets up to change where she sleeps and use the litter box.

We are traveling for a few days coming up. I'm attempting to find boarding, but expect my neighbor may end up helping instead. She is actually willing to deal with an ill cat! I feel blessed.

In other news...we finally exchanged our more expensive cable box for a digital adapter. This saves us $10 a month, and provided a $6 credit on our next bill. I think the smaller adapters use less energy too, so we might see a little savings.

And finally, today we went shopping. So unlike me the day after Christmas! My younger daughter needed jeans, a pair of khaki pants and pajama pants. It had been two years since she had purchased some of these things so it was time. We were able to get everything in two stops. I spent $79 at Kohl's and $20 at Target for 7 items.

I may not check in here until around the new year. I hope everyone enjoys the rest of 2016.

Riley Not Eating Again

December 23rd, 2016 at 02:01 pm

Our cat Riley that we took to Urgent care last week is not improving. She ate for several days, but as of today she isn't eating again. We were at our vet today. They took an xray. There is something they can see (a mass) that they can't define, so that is going to radiology to read. It is unknown when that will get read, maybe by Monday. Riley did not like the vet palpitating her abdomen at all.

In the meantime, more fluids were given. And we were given high protein/high energy prescription food to try. And some oral vitamin gel.

Another $400+ spent and I'm not so sure what to think. If I can't get her to eat there is going to be a problem and we may end back up at Urgent care. And then how much care do we continue?

It's pretty stressful to say the least!

Snowflakes

December 20th, 2016 at 04:35 am

I'm trying to focus on snowflakes to keep me positive rather than focus on all the money going out. Of course, I'm not ignoring it.

Money going out includes the unexpected expense of the vet visit on Saturday which was $385. And today we have our truck in for 90K mile maintenance. I guess for everything they are doing it will be $750! I only have $100 set aside specifically for car maintenance as I thought we only needed an oil change and tire rotations. Bad planning on my part. We do have the cash, just need to move money around on YNAB.
Tomorrow we have appointments for passport application, including photos. That will be $450. I did set that money aside.

The snowflakes are minor in comparison.

I did get a $15 credit from Southwest for the Early Bird that my daughter didn't get the advantage of on her recent flight because of cancellation and rebooking. I was thinking $30, which is what I paid, but half of that is for the return flight in January.

I earned $3 from Pinecone. I'm currently having it transferred to my PayPal account.

My husband is home today. I'm hoping to have him call (his name is the only one on the account) the cable company and change out our set top box for a digital adapter. We don't have the channels anymore that required us to have it. And that has been a year, and we can save about $10 a month by making that change.

I had ordered my daughter three pairs of jeans from Kohl's and had them mail to her dorm. She only liked one. We are returning those today. We may order another one of what she liked. If we return both I will have nearly $80 back in our account, or $40 if we order another pair. We will try to find a pair in the store, but I'm not confident that will happen.

I have close to 1000 Swagbucks in my account. I earned $20 in Amazon gift cards this month, and will probably accumulate more before I cash out again. I'm not spending a lot of time on it, but it does add up!

I'm making myself a note that I want to try to figure out how much I accumulated in snowflakes this year. It won't be exact, but more like a ballpark figure.

Do you have any recent snowflakes?

Ill Cat

December 17th, 2016 at 09:58 am

My youngest cat (9), her name is Riley, is ill again. She was sleepy, and vomiting yesterday. She definitely had not eaten since the day prior. And the final straw was when I checked on her this morning she hopped off the bed to use the litter box and there was a tinge of blood in her urine. We went to the urgent care vet this morning to make sure to be seen right away.

They did blood work which I'm very happy about. Overall it looks like an infection, probably urinary (bladder wasn't full enough to do a sample). There were some low numbers, but nothing that would be unusual or worrisome at this point. Although her weight is down about two pounds since September, so that isn't so great!

They gave an antibiotic injection, sub fluids, and an anti vomiting med in the office. We were sent home with instructions to get her to eat and give an oral antibiotic starting this evening. If she doesn't eat by morning she needs to go back in the morning.

Just now, about 2 hours after the return from the vet I was able to get her to eat 1/8 to 1/4 tsp of wet food. I find that very promising and will keep attempting to get her to eat more. I'm sure she will likely continue to feel better as the day goes on.

Riley is a cat that is gets very stressed. I think our last trip over Thanksgiving was probably not helpful to her health. Now I wish we didn't have another one coming up!

The cost was around $385. I told my husband that if it cost less than $500 I would be happy. I just want my cat to feel better! Our oldest daughter who is most bonded with this cat arrives home tonight from college. My worst fear this morning was that she wouldn't get to see the cat if it was something really bad. I haven't told her yet, as I don't want her to worry about it while she is flying.

Unfortunately someone brought a very lethargic cat that hadn't eaten for two days in while we were there. I believe that cat was euthanized before we even left ourselves. So sad!

Our plan going forward is to start feeding all wet food for our cats. My only issue is figuring out how much I should be feeding them. I asked the vet and she brought me a website to look at. This is my biggest frustrations with vets...they NEVER tell me now much to feed them. I've read instructions on bags of food that have helped some in recent years. So I have some research to do.

I know many of you have cats. If you feed wet food, please tell me what you do for your cat and how much your cat weighs. And if you have two cats do you feed separately?

Oh, and I was able to put the charge on my American Express card which I have 0% interest for the next 6 months. I'm going to pay that later from income rather than pulling from savings. At least that is the plan now. I may want to just get it paid. This looming tuition expense is messing with my planning!

Bills Paid, A Little Spending

December 15th, 2016 at 06:13 pm

I paid our credit card bills off in full and allocated funds to our budget categories for the rest of the month. I feel like I didn't save much as I was putting extra aside to cover hotel, eating out and fuel on our little trip to Nashville later this month. I hope we spend less than I budgeted!

I spent $18.75 for shipping a Large Flat Rate USPS box. I printed the label online and will drop the package off tomorrow morning. So much easier than standing in line this time of year!

I also bought a new filter for our refrigerator and a 2017 wall calendar off Amazon today. I had $20 in Amazon gift cards that I earned from Swagbucks this month. My final cost was less than $3 and I paid it with my Discover card to get 5% cash back (which will be sooo much in this case).

I did a lot of desk work today. I cleaned up my email inbox. I keep emails as reminders, so later I need to go back and delete them when they are no longer relevant. I consolidated some lists, and then started new ones! As the year winds down, I'm starting to make appointments for the new year, as well as saving documents for taxes.

I think tomorrow's spending will be limited to my husband picking up the weekend alcohol. We were already gifted a bottle of German wine to add mulling spices to, however, I think we will save that for Christmas.

The first of the month has been limited spending and it did help to use up some of the food we hadn't been getting used up. So in addition to meeting a financial goal, it has helped our kitchen food clutter.

$32

December 14th, 2016 at 06:28 am

I spent $3 at Dollar Tree yesterday on two stocking stuffers and some tea light candles. I am done gift shopping!

Two of us went to a high school basketball game last night. Admission was actually $7 each, rather than the $6 I had been told.

We are still within the budget I planned through today. Tomorrow is payday, so I can reallocate funds. I don't anticipate any spending today. I'm staying in and getting the presents that arrived in the mail wrapped, along with some cleaning. Dinner is already planned and bought.

I will put the extra $32 towards our upcoming trip to Nashville.

$74

December 13th, 2016 at 04:30 am

The only spending yesterday was my husband's haircut and tip. He spent $13.70. As a soldier he gets his hair cut every two weeks and he tips generously. I think $4 of that is a tip! He's always been a generous tipper, and it used to bug me, but I've come to terms with it. Why should I be the one to squash his generous spirit?!

We are getting passports next week. I discovered last night that we don't have a certified copy of my husband's birth certificate. I'm shocked! I looked through a lot of paper (and I became aware of how much we have that we could still get rid of) We do have two copies of it, but not the ones with the raised seal. So I'm going to send a request for one to the county of his birth. That is $17 to the county. I'm going to send it Priority mail, which will be $6.45. I'm also hoping I can purchase a prepaid Priority envelope so the birth certificate can be sent back the same way. That will add another $6.45 to the cost, for a total $29.90. This definitely was not an expense I was expecting this week.

We have $74 before the birth certificate and postal costs. I think we are going to see a high school basketball game tonight. Depending how many of us go, it will be $12 to $18 for admission.

Only two more days to go on our limited budget!

$88

December 11th, 2016 at 06:09 pm

Friday's spending was on a few grocery items and alcohol. I'm not a fan of how much we spend on alcohol. I'm sure it could be far worse. Total between those two runs was $55.

The only spending on Saturday was for a soda. We stopped into a gas station to use the restrooms. We also make a point to buy something in exchange for the convenience. Total spent $1.59.

Today our spending was on laundry detergent and groceries for the week. Grand total was $95. I did make a point to plan simple and frugal meals, so that did help keep the spending low.

So now we are left with $88 budgeted until payday on Thursday. My husband will probably need fuel and a haircut this week. There is plenty to cover both.

Used Airline Points

December 7th, 2016 at 10:23 am

I just purchased a roundtrip ticket for my daughter to come home for Christmas. And I used Southwest Airline tickets to cover the whole thing! I did have to pay that small Federal fee, but that amounted to $11.20. It is kind of nice to get that benefit once in awhile. I may need to start using our airline rewards card a little more often to rack up the points faster.

In other news we are traveling to Nashville to see my daughter's band march during the half time show for their bowl game. She needs to get there anyway, so thought we would drive and enjoy the game and city ourselves. We have paid $200 for tickets and parking, and the hotel for 3 nights is just under $500. I have Marriott points, but because it's a busy time for hotels, the points needed are outrageous! So we'll just earn more points.

So...my husband and I are going to make the trip our Christmas gift. We were looking at buying new speakers at the cost of $400, but we decided that can wait. Likely we can buy those in the spring, after we have paid tuition.

I'm looking to accumulate some Swagbucks to earn Amazon gift cards to buy some needed items, such as razor blades. I figure every little bit helps the bottom line.

And I'm grateful once again to be a renter. The disposal is leaking and likely needs to be replaced. So the plumber is coming to take care of it and it won't cost me anything! I am annoyed that the landlord asked us to call instead of doing it himself!

Staying Out of Stores

December 6th, 2016 at 02:15 pm

In the last few years, I have done less and less shopping in stores. And this counts for Christmas, too! It is amazing how much less I spend when I avoid the stores. The displays are so tempting and inviting and there is ALWAYS a deal. The less I am in the store, the less I spend. It is directly correlated based on my own experience.

I think not having the newspaper coming to our door, reducing our mail and catalog delivery, and unsubscribing myself from store email lists have also made a difference.

Target is one of my favorite stores. I honestly love nearly everything about it! Before we moved it was my primary grocery store. I scanned the ads almost religiously and inevitably found something in the ad that was a good deal so I'd add it to the list. And honestly, it was usually something we would use. However, we didn't always need it right then. I could have probably waited for the next sale. And during this time of year it was easy to add some of the deals to my gift list just because why not it is so cheap!

Now that I shop online, I feel I'm a little more aware of what I'm buying. I'm not entirely sure why that is. It may be simple because I have a list, I find the item, add to cart and checkout. It's easy to do that on specialty sites and Amazon. If you are trying to meet a threshold for free shipping, then you are likely ending up with more than you need.

I did have to shop for a couple items in the stores, primarily for stocking stuffers and my nieces gifts. The nieces gifts were themed and had a lot of different things to them, so that meant going to different places. I'm hoping to avoid that next year!

So far our out of pocket cost for Christmas gifts is just over $500. I budgeted $600, so we are right on target!

Do you shop more online or in stores? Do you spend less if you stay out of the retail stores?

$500 For 12 Days

December 3rd, 2016 at 12:24 pm

We had a lot more spending in late November than I budgeted for. I just didn't think through our trip expenses and things we would end up buying our daughter while visiting very well. So to compensate we have about $500 for spending over the next 12 days.

We go grocery shopping tomorrow. I have a meal plan in place. I'm going to do my best to keep to the list. We need to be eating less anyway, so the lack of cash should help!

In other really good news, my sister and her husband adopted their second daughter (their older daughter's sister) today! A happy family of four. My gift to them is to make a photo book of her first year with them. That first year won't be complete until May, so I have some time to accumulate pictures and set some cash aside to get it made.

Boxed Savings

December 2nd, 2016 at 04:15 pm

I think I've mentioned the two other times that I made purchases at Boxed.com, so I might as well mention my third order. I snagged our favorite Dunkin Donuts coffee, 96 count Always, 67 oz Prego pasta sauce AND as set of 6 Cuisinart knives. I wasn't looking specifically for knives, but I had seen a similar set at some store and I really do need them!

My order total before rewards of $17 was $68.92. I charged the $51.92 to my husbands American Express card. He had an offer for Boxed.com. Spend $50, get $15 cash back. The final cost out of pocket will be $36.92. I basically feel like I got the knives free and similar prices for the other items that I would buy at the Commissary anyway.

If you are interested in $15 off a $60 order, use my link here. I think that allows you to get free shipping. I do like to buy in bulk when I know that the price is just as good or better than what I would pay in the store. It's also nice to stock up and know we won't need to run out to the store for the things we are stocked up on. Smile

November Interest

December 1st, 2016 at 12:18 pm

The cash we have in our bank accounts has earned us $75.40 in the month of November. I'll take it, even though I'd like more! Don't I say that every time I report on interest earned?

I believe I'm nearly done Christmas shopping. I still need some stocking stuffers. My husband and I will buy a joint gift this year once we have some additional funds in our account.

Are you finished Christmas shopping or just getting started?

Cancelled Another Credit Card

November 28th, 2016 at 05:48 am

I cancelled another credit card last night. It was my Citi Thank You Preferred card. I've had it for awhile, and noticed we had added new cards and were using those more. Why keep extra cards if they are never used, right?

I simply sent a message through our account requesting the cancellation. I had a super quick response and when I logged back on the account had been closed. Easy!

The next step is to record in my notes that I cancelled the card and cut the cards up. I kind of like the finality of cutting up a card. I also moved the card account on YNAB to the closed account list. Smile

We still have TEN credit cards open. Want to know what they are? Sure you do!

Target Red Card (5% off Target purchases)
US Bank Visa (5% off cell phone bill)
Chase Freedom (rotating 5% cash back categories)
Kohl's (various discounts)
Discover (rotating 5% cash back categories)
Southwest Visa (miles to fly on Southwest)
USAA (1% cash back)
American Express Blue Cash Everyday (various cash back, plus 3% grocery stores, 2% gas stations) (we have two of these)
Marriott Rewards Visa (hotel rewards)

I'm considering getting rid of Chase Freedom, although I've had it for a long time. I also probably don't need the USAA either, but currently we are using it for most of our expenses. I'm liking how quickly USAA is adding the cash back to our rewards account. And there is no minimum!

The cards that I'm finding most difficult to actually use are the Southwest and Marriott cards as their rewards are miles and hotel points. We pay annual fees for these cards! I'm NOT getting rid of Southwest though, because I do charge airline tickets at least four times a year. I am getting benefit from it. I haven't decided on the Marriott card yet. I think I need more time to decide and figure out how fast I could accumulate points if I used it more regularly.

How many cards do you have?

We have credit cards, but never pay any interest on our charges. All balances are paid in full by the due date, or before!

$10 off $25 at Amazon for BOOKS!

November 27th, 2016 at 02:10 pm

I just got wind of this promotion, so I thought I would pass it on. You can get $10 off $25 book purchase at Amazon. It expires, TONIGHT, November 27 at midnight PST. The code you need at checkout is HOLIDAYBOOK.

I already used it! I'm buying the Hamilton book for my youngest daughter. She is a fan of the Broadway play music. She hasn't seen the production, but this should give her some more insight on it. The book retails for $45. Amazon has had it for $27 with Amazon Prime. After the promotion, I scored it for $17! Quite the deal.

In other news...it looks like I will sell two of my items on eBay tomorrow. One other auction has someone watching it, so that could happen too. May end up with $25 or so.

Photo Gifts

November 20th, 2016 at 11:27 am

I'm making some photo gifts for Christmas this year. I'm making a photo book for my older daughter of her high school marching band pictures. I'm two years late on it, but I think it will be meaningful and unexpected. I should have made it for her graduation, but we were in the middle of getting ready to move at that time and it was just to overwhelming to take on. It was 50% off, so around $18 before shipping. I'm sure there is going to be a better deal at some point, but I'm just happy to have it done and on it's way!

I also put a college of marching band pictures from this year for my younger daughter. I didn't get a lot of good pictures, but a band dad took a ton and my daughter made it into a couple of them. He was nice enough to share them. That 8x10 collage is only a couple dollars and I will get a frame so she can put it on her wall.

The final photo gift is a calendar for my parents with pictures of their four grandchildren. I have not completed it yet as I'm hoping to get a couple pictures of the four of them together over Thanksgiving. I also am purchasing it separately so I can have it mailed directly to them. I think it will cost me $12 or so with shipping.

Do you make photo gifts for Christmas? Are you the recipient of photo gifts? What kind are your favorites?

Europe Trip Charge Paid In Full

November 16th, 2016 at 04:17 am

I had charged my daughter's summer trip to Europe on our Southwest Visa early in October. I needed to pay it off by November 23 to avoid interest charges. And I did just that yesterday. The balance is now zero.

We were able to cash flow all but $1400. That amount I took from savings. I expect I will be able to cover most of that next month, and have paid ourselves back.

I feel really good about how it turned out. I could have been making monthly payments of nearly $600 for eight months, but I feel much better having it just done and paid for. My focus now is to accumulate another $4000 for February tuition.

We also need to set aside money for passports in December. We decided my husband and I should have them also, especially if something were to happen and we would need to fly overseas.

Not Spend Free November

November 15th, 2016 at 11:04 am

I'm not surprised, but November has definitely not turned out as no spend for us. We are spending within our budget as usual, but I'm not able to back off getting some things we need.

Last weekend we went shopping for some new clothes. I bought one shirt, my daughter four shirts and my husband picked up a sweater and a belt. We shopped at Kohl's and after some great coupons and discounts we paid $83. I don't think we had any items that came up to more than $20 after the discounts. We were all due for something new, especially since we are going to attempt some family pictures over Thanksgiving. I had a six year old top I could have worn, but decided I could spend a little money to be wearing something not so dated!

I've also started Christmas baking, which meant buying baking supplies at the store on Sunday when we shopped. I bought only the ingredients I needed. I will pick up the rest after Thanksgiving when I'm back at the grocery store.

I've also started Christmas shopping. Just yesterday I spent $25 at Hobby Lobby buying some items for my niece and my daughter. I also purchased a couple gift items online that should arrive tomorrow.

I'm striving for a stress free holiday and part of that involves spending in November, so I don't have to be out in the store shopping. I'm thinking ahead about stamps, cards (actually skipping this year), gift wrap, the gifts themselves, decorations (including lights), and baking. If you want to read more about Stress Less Christmas and my daily Christmas missions go to my other blog Your Organized Friend. Feel free to look at November and December archives from last year too.

So while I attempted to be low spend this time of year, it is just reality that there is spending. I'll try again in January and/or February.

Did you try no spend this month? How are you doing?


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